Neil is one of Tim’s good mates. He appeared as a guinea pig in Tim’s book 4-Hour Body. He’s the author of 8 New York Times best sellers and has edited for high profile magazines such as Rolling Stone.
I’ve gone for a different flavour here. In terms of my recall, I’m trying to limit one bit of information per card as it makes it a little easier. Of course, this eats into production time but I’m going for a simple cue then response.
I can see that eventually I’ll tire of creating more cards, so I’ll improve my visual encoding and story telling process.
Neil The Iconoclast
Let’s link the N of Neil to the N of Not. The last bit of advice Neil leaves with Tim is to not accept the norms of your time.
This is counter-culture and Neil suggests that this leads to innovation. It also leads to much pain because you’re becoming an outlier, but it’s part of that journey.
Why are you rejecting the norms? Is it because they are inefficient or they don’t work for you? Are they unclear?
Tim makes comments on this in the 4-Hour Work Week about looking for alternate ways to reach the same or similar result. 80/20 analysis at play again.
Writing Block? Nah, You’re Just Experiencing Impotence
Neil suggest that writer’s block is nothing more than performance anxiety and can be likened to impotence.
We’re worried more about the end result that it strikes us into paralysis.
Lower the standards. This is to enter the state of flow. This isn’t to end up with the polished result. The point is to start writing.
Tim refers to “two crappy pages per day” as the quota of success. Just show up and some days you’ll hit a home run while on others you’ll strike out.
I’m noticing themes to habit forming here. Also, links to quantity over quality which is at odds with advice I received as a kid.
The message isn’t to not end up at quality, the message is to be okay that quality is the precursor to flowing writing.
Using a deadline and reducing distraction through using apps like Freedom help as well.
Personally, I use Freedom app to help reduce my own distractions from apps and the outside world. Then it’s just a matter of dealing with one’s own tendency to procrastinate.
I like Tony’s Robbins’ approach here.
How can you make procrastination more painful than pleasurable?
In other words, make the cost of inaction more painful than being lazy. Do the work now do you can be lazy later. Delay the gratification.
Asking that question: “what’s the cost of inaction?” is a simple mental cue to rouse yourself to create follow-through.
Neil’s Editing Process
Neil writes 3 drafts. The first is for himself. The second is for his fans. The third is for his detractors.
The first draft is messy. Nobody sees it, but it will contain the story in its scrawl. The next job is to unpack it.
I liken this to morning pages or two crappy pages. Get the stream of consciousness down on the page. Build it out from there.
The second phase is to write for your reader. Become empathic and write from the reader perspective.
Neil mentioned that he’ll usually use the actual names of people at this stage. He also suggests to saturate yourself in the writing so you can hold all the information in your head.
Time spent away from the project makes it more difficult to get back into that headspace. I find this with video production.
The last step is to address the critics and detractors upfront. What criticisms might they have and how can you address them in your prose?
Neil gives the example of Eminem. He critiques himself in his owns songs and then responds to them.
I liken this to Blue Ocean Strategy’s overcoming the political hurdle and reducing barriers to adoption. That’s where you thwart or take control of the narrative before the public has a chance to discredit you.
Not an easy feat.
Little Baby Step of Action
I am adding Strauss’ The Game to my reading list.
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Tools of Titans is book that organises and categorises identified themes and patterns of Tim’s podcast guests. He has sifted through the information to serve up recipes and the need-to-know information that can be reproduced by people like you and me. Tony Robbins suggests that the shortcut to success is to model people who have already done what you seek to do. So this book is a wonderfully targeted sequence of steps and procedures to help you model your action on the world’s top performers.
If you’ve found this content valuable and are interested in this book, then you can help support this blog by getting the latest price at Amazon at no extra cost if you decide to purchase.